If stepping off the plane into the Copenhagen airport is a little like stepping into the world's biggest IKEA store, then stepping out of the tiny airport in Karup, Denmark is a little like transporting to the farmlands of Nebraska. But my mission to the far west end of the Jutland peninsula, together with a number of other European and North American journalists, was not sightseeing, but information. Information about what Struer, Denmark manufacturer B&O is currently about, and how the activities in its several facilities are leading to interesting new products, and how those products are influenced by the thinking and research behind them.
Speakers for cordless phones, another B&O product category, must be tiny. Looks like it also might make an interesting tweeter, though probably not, as the frequency response of telephone drivers is band limited by design.
B&O began as a radio manufacturer in the late 1920s, operating out of Svend Olufsen's family farmhouse outside of Struer, Denmark. Its first product, the Eliminator, was designed to allow a radio to be powered by line voltage instead of a battery. The photo shows B&O consultant Ronny Kaas Mortensen next to the radio. The small box at the upper right hand corner of the radio is the Eliminator. It was not only built inside the radio itself, but also sold separately. It also cleaned up the dirty power line output of the day—the first audiophile high-end power conditioner!
The BeoVision 9 television, which just started shipping, is B&O's current flagship 50-inch plasma. The 50" set, at around $20,000, may seem pricey for a 1366x768 design (it uses Panasonic glass), and it is. But it does include a built-in center speaker with an Acoustic Lens tweeter and 5" woofer. It also features an on-board version of B&O's BeoMedia (available separately in the BeoSystem 3), which includes all of the features of a sophisticated pre-pro and more. These include full 7.1-channel decoding (expandable up to 10 channels), speaker switching and speaker assignment options that may be the most flexible on the market, and easy access to sources as diverse as CD, radio, cable TV, satellite TV, DVD, photos, digital cameras, and the Internet. And oh, yes, the entire cabinet has a motorized swivel. Very cool.
It isn't immediately obvious that the JVC LT-46FN97 ($3,499.95) stands out in a sea of new flat panel displays. Its styling is attractive but generic. Its feature set is good though hardly revolutionary. But when I first saw it in action at a JVC line show I knew I wanted to review it. Two other trade shows intervened before I had a chance to spend time with this 46" 1080p LCD set in my own studio, but demos at both shows made me even more anxious to check it out.
Given Pioneer's current prominence in the world of plasma displays, DVD players (plus soon, they trust, Blu-ray Disc), and other home audio and video electronics, it may surprise you to learn that it began as a speaker company. In fact, Pioneer speakers still have a significant market presence in many parts of the world.
It all starts with the mother glass. That's the foundation for building an LCD panel. Everything else—the individual red, green, and blue elements of each pixel and the interconnects necessary to drive them—are grown on it.